Ghanaian teen becomes youngest Ph.D. student at U.S. university

Ruth Ama Gyan-Darkwa at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). Photo: KNUST

When at the age of 13 she gained admission into the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), one of the premier universities in the West African nation of Ghana, Ruth Ama Gyan-Darkwa became the youngest student to attend the university.

She got her country and netizens talking when she graduated at the age of 17 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. In the Ghanaian education system, Gyan-Darkwa would have been completing junior high school at the age she began her tertiary journey.

Her father, Kwadwo Gyan-Darkwa, who is a tutor at Prempeh College, does not find his daughter’s feat surprising. They belong to a family lineage where many are academically astute and high learners. Her elder sister, Grace, gained admission into KNUST at the age of 14 and completed it at the age of 18 in 2018, according to

In the case of Gyan-Darkwa, because she was a quick learner, she was regularly promoted to the next class after spending a term or two. She wrote the Basic Education Certificate Examination when she was nine years old. It was her first year at the Justice International School in Kumasi in Ghana’s Ashanti region. She excelled and gained admission to St. Louis Senior High School where she studied general science. She completed it at the age of 12 in 2017.

She was admitted that same year into KNUST to study mathematics at the age of 13, becoming the university’s youngest student. She studied mathematics to provide her with the foundation for her future dream of becoming an aeronautics engineer. After completion, she was granted admission by the University of New Mexico at the age of 18 to do her doctoral program. Gyan-Darkwa is the university’s youngest student to do a Ph.D. She is currently with the department of electrical engineering and hopes to work at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) one day. The bigger goal is to position herself to help Africans to make inroads into space in the near future.

Gyan-Darkwa was born on May 29, 2004. She is one of eight children of her parents. She was enrolled in kindergarten at 3 years old. She had her primary education at the Christ Our Hope International School in Kumasi. She earlier attended Lincoln Junior High School before being transferred to Justice International School.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: February 17, 2023


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